South Florida’s Gig-Poster Scene Steps Out With “I Was There!”

You’ve seen them around town and all over Facebook. Whether it’s for Nine Inch Nails at the Cruzan Amphitheatre or local bands at Churchill's, the quintessential gig poster finds a way to pull at your heartstrings.

“To me, gig posters represent the perfect meeting ground between the worlds of visual arts and performing arts,” says Chuck Loose, a poster artist and owner of Iron Forge Press. “[They’re] the ubiquitous show announcement that has been a part of music culture nearly as long as performing arts have existed.”

Loose has helped organize the inaugural “I Was There!” The South Florida Gigposter Scene, a free show that opens at 6 p.m. Saturday at ArtsBunker. Loose has been wanting to put on a gig-poster show since 2004, when he founded Iron Forge Press. The touring poster show Flatstock — a mainstay at South by Southwest, Bumbershoot, and other festivals — has been a popular attraction for more than a decade. But Loose says the art has caught on in this area only over the past few years.

“South Florida is at least four to five years, culturally, behind other major cities in the U.S.," he says, "so I'm glad this has finally caught up.”

Loose says the purpose of “I Was There!” isn’t just to showcase great artists, “who are generating some of the most memorable music-related imagery around, but also allow attendees to view and buy these meticulously designed and laboriously hand-printed individual and extremely limited serigraphic art prints.”

Along with posters by Loose’s own Iron Forge Press, “I Was There!” will feature the works of six additional artists and printers.

“The group of artists exhibited is the core local group of folks doing this kind of work on the regular,” Loose says. “There's been lots of artists we have worked with in South Florida on various gig-poster-style projects, but to me, this crew represent the group who are working continually on this kind of art and exploring it as their specific discipline.”

Artists to be featured include Dave Berns of Hot Damn Arts. The former marketing-company art director took to poster designing as a way to get excited about creating again. “I was kind of burned out,” Berns explained, “selling a lot of crap I didn't care about for a paycheck.”

By creating gig posters, Berns says he “saw the potential to be fairly independent and also enjoy what I create again, by running with it — so I ran with it.”

Hot Damn Arts will showcase 18 posters on Saturday. “Every one of them has a few little artistic achievements and failures in the final product,” Berns says. “But I guess I'm most proud of the Samhain poster I did for Danzig last November.”

Along with limited-edition pieces available for purchase, “I Was There!” will offer music from local DJs, craft beer provided by Native Brewing Co., and various food trucks will be in attendance.

Says Loose: “I think having a cool gig poster is equal parts bragging rights, art appreciation — the desire for cool-looking stuff — and nostalgia.”

“I Was There!” the South Florida Gigposter Scene takes place this Saturday, June 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at ArtsBunker, located in Equality Park at the Pride Center, 2034 N. Dixie Hwy., Wilton Manors. Admission is free. Artists featured include Omar Angulo Art, Dave Berns / Hot Damn Arts, Brian Butler / The Upper Hand Art, Chuck Loose / Iron Forge Press, Nathaniel Deas / Bourbon Sunday - Art by Nathaniel Deas, Adam Sheetz Art, and Eric Karbeling Design.
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Emily Bloch